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Telecoms regulator defends hefty pay to board members

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The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) headquarters in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has attributed hefty sitting allowances paid out to board members to regulatory changes in the industry that necessitated numerous sittings for the directors.

In a response to the Ombudsman, Otiende Amollo, addressing the ongoing investigations into irregular allowances paid to board members, CA director-general Francis Wangusi says the board was forced to meet regularly between July and December 2014 due to changing dynamics in the communication industry as well as changes to the Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Act of 2013).

Mr Wangusi says in the letter that CA board members have already accounted for more than Sh5.4 million of the imprest payments that had been questioned.

“In view of the changes brought about by the Kenya Information and Communication (Amendment) Act 2013 and the dynamic and changing nature of the communications industry, the board and its various committees met frequently during the period hence the increase in the amount of allowance paid,” Mr Wangusi says in a letter dated July 28, 2015.

The law provides that the CA board should meet at least four times every year.

The communications industry regulator spent Sh11.9 million in sitting allowances between July and November 2014 on board member meetings, press briefings, retreats, team building activities and foreign travel.

READ: Telecoms regulator on the spot over hefty allowances

A further Sh8.2 million taken from the agency as imprest by current and retired directors was yet to be accounted for, an internal report showed.

“Currently, all board members have surrendered imprest in compliance with the law save for an outstanding amount of Sh144,600,” reads the letter.

Mr Wangusi, who also sits on the board, is not entitled to a sitting allowance since he earns a monthly salary.

The board members who had not accounted for their imprests were given seven days to surrender the outstanding cash failure to which it would be deducted from their payments or recovered as a civil debt, Mr Wangusi said.

CA board members earn a sitting allowance of Sh20,000 for every meeting or official function attended and a per diem allowance of Sh13,000 per day for local travel outside Nairobi and $400 per day for foreign travels.

The directors are further entitled to a lunch allowance of Sh2,000 per sitting.

CA chairman Bedan Gituku earned a total of Sh1.1 million in sitting allowances over the five-month period under review.

The CA internal report had said that he was yet to account for Sh405,934.55 advanced to him to attend an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) council meeting held in Qatar in December last year as well as local travels.